Less than 4% of U.S. Churches Reproduce
Rethinking Healthy Growth
We can easily take our eyes off of Jesus as our zeal for “doing” things that create momentum and growth for Jesus distracts us from actually helping people “become” more like Jesus. When church growth strategies and the resulting impact become our measure of success rather than making fully devoted followers of Jesus, we make cultural Christians who consume rather than Biblical disciples who reproduce and make disciples. We grow numerically, but we don’t multiply and send disciples. We neuter the very mechanism for multiplication that Jesus embedded in our DNA. It’s time to rethink our definition of healthy growth. Having less than 4% of U.S. churches reproducing is a direct consequence of a prevailing operating system that is not producing Biblical disciples who make disciples. We have a multiplication problem with Christ Followers and churches. The FREE eBook Becoming a Level Five Multiplying Church Field Guide provides a more detailed framework for healthy Kingdom growth and the basis for the Becoming Five Assessment Tools. Consider downloading and reading it.
Three Dimensions of Multiplication
Disciple Making, Capacity Building, and Mobilization
Healthy growth is found at the intersection of three Biblical cultures. These include a culture of disciple making (adding and multiplying disciples), a culture of capacity building (adding an multiplying church capacity), and a culture of mobilization (living in common in a local faith community and living deployed into every corner of society). Each of these three cultures must have both an addition element and a multiplication element. Unfortunately most Christians and churches never experience (or practice) the multiplication elements. The Becoming Five Assessment Tools are designed to help individuals and churches discern how they are doing on balancing the addition and multiplication dimensions. Becoming Five seeks to create a new vocabulary and champion a new scorecard for healthy Kingdom growth based on a balanced approach to these three key dimensions of multiplication.
Exponential’s mission is to help see the percentage of churches and Christ Followers that ever reproduce increase from less than 4% to greater than 10%! The Becoming Five framework helps individuals and churches look at their approach to disciple making, capacity building, and mobilization. There are three assessments for individuals and three for churches. The three assessments focus on disciple making, capacity building and mobilization. The individual assessments focus on how the three elements are lived out in the life of the Christ Follower. The church assessments focuses on how the three dimensions are embedded within the culture of the church.
The FREE eBook Dream Big, Plan Smart provides a more detailed description of the three dimensions of healthy growth. Consider downloading and reading it.
5 Levels of Multiplication
A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation. Most of the 350,000+ churches in the U.S. experience one of the following three cultures: Subtracting (survival), Adding (growth) or Multiplying (movement). Each of these cultures has unique distinctives that shape its member’s thinking, its leader’s decision making, and the norms of behavior. In a similar way, individuals experience these same three cultures, often expressed as consuming (subtracting), contributing (adding) and multiplying.
Levels of Multiplication
In practice, there is an overlap and blending between these cultures; they are not completely isolated and distinct from one another. For example, plateaued churches are caught in tension between survival and growth (- and +), and reproducing churches are in tension between growth and movement (+ and x). In a similar way, stuck individuals are caught in the tension between consumption (subtraction) and contributing (adding). The three cultures overlap in a way to create five distinct profiles for churches and for individuals.
Leve1 :: Subtracting // Level 2 :: Plateauing // Level 3 :: Adding
Level 4 :: Reproducing // Level 5 :: Multiplying
The Becoming Five assessment tools are built on detailed descriptive profiles of each of these five levels of multiplication! The assessment questions are designed to link self-identified behaviors with the applicable multiplication profiles. The assessment tool integrates responses into an aggregated score that reflects a unique multiplication profile.
3 Dimensions of View
Past – Current – Future
The past informs our current reality, and our current reality informs our future. Each of these three dimensions–past, current, and future–are needed to more fully characterize our multiplication culture. Think of each dimension as a lens that provides increased understanding. The Becoming Five assessment tools look at these three lenses independently and in aggregation. Participants answer three groups of questions corresponding to their past, current, and future multiplication behaviors. Individuals and established churches (3+ years of age) use all three lenses (past, present and future). Churches 1 to 3 years of age use two lenses (present and future), and new churches use only the future lens.
The Becoming Five assessment looks at three different perspectives: past, present, and future. Each perspective is independently scored relative to the five levels of multiplication, and a unique three digit score or pattern is assigned (e.g. 1-1-5, 3-4-5). There are 125 different possible patterns between 1-1-1 and 5-5-5. However, many of these patterns such as 5-1-1 are meaningless and are not included in the core patterns. The net result is only a handful of key or core patterns that most individuals and churches will test into. Patterns are useful by giving us a snapshot of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’d like to go. These patterns represent specific pathways for moving from where we are to where we aspire to b in the future. The Becoming Five resource library will be expanded to link recommended resources to each specific pattern., thereby equipping individuals and churches to lean into their future aspirations.
Making it Personal
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”
― Peter F. Drucker
The Importance of Intentionality
With greatr than 95% of U.S. churches and individuals in Levels 1 – 3, the journey to Levels 4 and 5 takes intentionality, courage, and discipline. We must embrace new values and scorecards, acknowledging that the priorities and behaviors that put us on the list of largest and fastest growing churches also constrain us to Level 3. We must think differently!
We must redefine success based on Levels 4 and 5, learning to shift our focus from attracting and accumulating to releasing and sending.
Becoming Five, via participating networks, denominations, and ministries, seeks build a growing library of resources on multiplication to equip leaders based on their unique Becoming Five patterns and results. As a community of like-minded leaders and ministries, we are journeying together to move the scorecard from less than 4% of U.S. churches and individuals reproducing to greater than 10%!
Moving from Good Intentions to Results and Impact
As we build this new resource library together to equip one another, here are a few suggested immediate actions to consider:
- Read the FREE eBooks Spark, Becoming Five, and Dream Big
- Have key members of your team independently take the Becoming Five Assessment. Working through the questions exposes leaders to the success behaviors of multiplying churches.
- Develop an initial “My Multiplication Plan (MMP)“. Putting your initial commitments down on paper is a strong first step in shifting your behaviors and bringing other people on your team along for the journey.
- Attend one of the Exponential 2017 multiplication events. Click here to see the list of events and to learn more.
New resources will continue to be added over coming months to help equip you in your plans for becoming a Level 5 multiplier.
uniting on church multiplication
A growing number of national networks, denominations, and ministries are embracing the simple language and framework of Becoming Five. These ministries encourage their leaders to take the free online assessments. Ministries have the option of embedding the assessment on their web sites.
- New Thing Network
- Summit Network
- Converge Worldwide
- Asbury Seminary
- Wesleyan Church (Nitrogen Network)
- Evangelical Free Church of America
- Multisite Solutions
- CityReach Network
- Church Planting Canada
- Greenhouse Movement
- Evangelical Friends Church
- Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
- KNCSB Church Planting
- Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians
- Liberty Church Network
- Send Network (NAMB)
- Church Multiplication Network (Assemblies of God)
- Houston Church Planting Network
- 21st Century Strategies
- Passion for Planting
- Healthy Growing Churches
- Baptist Missionary Association (BMA)
- Church of the Nazarene
- Ignite Church Planting
- Church Multiplication Training Center
- Regenerant Network
- Ambassador Network
- National Association of Congregational Christian Churches
- Nexus Church Planting
- Lifeway / NewChurches.com
- Evangelical Covenant Church
- Mission OC
- Christ Together
- Orchard Group
- The United Methodist Church (Path 1)
- Titus Church Planting and Multiplication
- International Pentecostal Holiness Church
- Seventh Day Baptists
- CREO Collective
- Center for US Missions
- The Alliance
- Northwest Church Planting
- Sticks Network
- Kairos Church Planting
What Others Are Saying
Ed StetzerExecutive Director / Lifeway Research
My hope is that people will ask questions and that at the end of the day, will conclude they want to become a level five multiplying church
Dave FergusonFounder / New Thing Network
I dream every day about what it will take to see the percentage of churches who are reproducing in the US move from less than 4% to greater than 10%. Becoming Five gives language to the pathway.
Jeff ChristophersonVice President Send Network / NAMB
Becoming Five is a strong tool to help the evangelical church realign herself back to her eternal design of selfless Kingdom engagement. The only hope for Western Christianity is found within biblical recalibrations such as this.
J.D. GreearFounder / Summit Network
We need to move the scorecard away from seating capacity as our measure of success and toward sending capacity
Bob RobertsFounder / Glocalnet
We will not have a movement until we all become fives. The question is not ‘how big of a church can you grow?’ The questions is ‘how much can you multiply?
Mac LakeChief Launch Officer / Multiply Group
Language creates culture and Becoming Five is going to bring us together in using a common language so that we can shape the multiplying culture of churches.
Chris LagerlofFounder / Mission Orange County
I think Becoming Five will shape the church of the future.
Jim TomberlinFounder / MultiSite Solutions
Multisite changed how we think and do church. Now it’s time to change how we think and do multisite. Multisite cracked the door towards true multiplication and movement. Becoming 5 is the tool that will bust the multiplication door wide-open.